North Bank Deer Preserve

May 4, 2008

The North Bank Deer Preserve is one of my favorite hikes and it even managed to go up a notch or two on my list after a most pleasant hike this year. I believe May 4th is the latest date that I have led this trip and with the cold spring we have been having it seemed to work out just about right time-wise since we enjoyed a stunning wildflower show… yet again.

It was an inauspicious start though. The meeting location had to be switched to the LCC parking lot from SEHS in order to avoid the traffic delays in South Eugene due to the Eugene Marathon. Even though all who had signed up were warned to avoid the marathon area, still one person tried to drive through the gauntlet of runners and wound up stuck in stopped traffic and unable to get to the meeting area at LCC in time. In addition we had another no show and two late cancellations. But despite the drop off in numbers, ten determined souls headed out of Eugene promptly at 8:00 a.m., only soon to have one car return to Eugene from the Creswell area so the leader could retrieve his forgotten boots. Luckily, that was the end of the troubles for the day.

The weather was cold, breezy and partly cloudy as we left the trailhead about 9:30, but the marine clouds soon cleared and before long we were hiking under a cloudless sky. This 8.4 mile hike loops around and through the North Bank Habitat Management Area, a ten square mile preserve for the rare Columbia white tail deer. We followed the trail up over open rolling hills, through open oak savannas and meadows following the ridgelines that provided 360 degree panoramic views of the North Fork of the Umpqua River and its surrounds. After adding up all the ups in the up-and-downs, we managed a gross elevation gain of about 1800 feet. While this trail can often be quite muddy, there were few muddy places this time around. There were lots and lots of wildflowers, with expert identification of flowers and other native flora provided by Sabine Dutoit. For the second time in the years I have led this trip, some of the group were lucky enough to spot the rare Columbia white tail deer — a really special treat.

By 2:30 p.m. or so the temperature had risen to around 70 degrees as we returned to the trailhead and started for home. A stop by all at Rice Hill for ice cream capped another great day of hiking with the Obsidians.

Hikers were: Rick Ahrens, Carol Andersen, Mari Baldwin, Marianne Camp, Sabine Dutoit Dick Hildreth, Janet Jacobsen, Barb Revere, Don Robbins and John Jacobsen, leader.

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